Early (pre-publication) review of The World Is A Ball just in

From the web site of Bolen Books in Victoria, B.C.

The World Is A Ball by John Doyle (release date May 2010)

Somewhere in the stack of books that the folks at Bolen Books handed me was a book on soccer; a preamble to the World Cup, by John Doyle, the TV and entertainment critic for the Globe and Mail. My earliest sporting memories are of soccer and, as a lifelong player of the game who named his boat after the 2006 Cup-winning Italian team, I was doubtful that a professional couch potato could capture the excitement and gravitas of the coming tournament in South Africa. I was wrong. So happily wrong.

With grace, insight, and a very different view from any other sports journalist, Doyle lays out the political, cultural and very human importance of soccer. He takes us on an entertaining and hilarious journey from his Irish childhood to Canada’s unsuccessful qualifying games leading up to the 2010 World Cup on a circuitous and highly rewarding path. He provides the full back story to the game in a way that recognizes the 80,000 fans inside the stadium as much as he celebrates the millions of rambunctious cab drivers, publicans, face-painted 12 year olds and has-been beer league players watching from outside those expensive seats. Doyle does a marvellous job of capturing the people, places and crazy things that happen when the world seems to stop turning so 22 men battle it out for 90 minutes during the world’s most popular sporting event.

South Africa has the immeasurable burden and honour of inviting the world to their doorstep hosting a tournament that has been around since 1930. During 31 days this summer 32 teams will travel to South Africa and become a universal bond tethering some 2.2 billion viewers to their televisions around the world. For just over a month it will be acceptable to reclaim, or invent, your great-great grandfather’s heritage, wake up at 4am to catch “your” team play, and have a Guinness with breakfast while your friends sit beside you bleary eyed and fatigued from sleepless hours glued to the set.

I stood in Circus Maximus in Rome watching Materazzi drop like a sack of wet gnocci after Zidane’s headbutting moment of insanity during the final. I never expected anyone to be able to capture the pure lust I have for the game and all that comes with it. Doyle writes in a way that would make even Don Cherry weep for the beautiful game.

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